- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 13, 2002

Taxpayers whose conversations with their accountants are already ending in volleys of profanity ("I owe what?") will reach for flamethrower vocabulary when they read the 2002 Congressional Pig Book released this week by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

CAGW discovered that despite a war and an economic downturn, members of Congress still managed to appropriate a record $20.1 billion in pork for 8,341 projects for fiscal 2002. The spending ranged from the shameless to the simply silly. Here's a sampling of some items guaranteed to set off anyone still struggling to fill out a 1040:

Recipients of federal funds on the fruited plain did just fine. Michiganders hoping to make growing improvements in their fruit practices received $239,000, while Alabamans wishing to know more about Satsuma Oranges (such as what they are) squeezed out $800,000. Montana's Sen. Conrad Burns bagged $400,000 for Montana's Sheep Institute (don't ask), and Iowa's Sen. Tom Harkin slopped the National Swine Research Center with $400,000 in funding for manure management research.

Something was certainty fishy in the Senate, where South Carolina's Sen. Ernest Hollings hooked taxpayers for $14 million in funding for the Hollings Marine Laboratory, Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens pulled up $9.4 million for the Juneau Fisheries Laboratory, Hawaii's Sen. Daniel Inouye gave Hawaiian sea turtles a souped-up grant of $3 million and Washington's Sen. Patty Murray put up $4 million for a dolphin relocation project.

Most members of Congress never had the beat, but they funded it anyway. Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum drummed up $200,000 for a grant to the Rockin' the Schools music education program. The many music lovers in Louisville's high society should be singing about Sen. Mitch McConnell's $50,000 earmark for the Kentucky Opera. Everyone who hears the name, "Moscow, Idaho," surely thinks about only one thing jazz. The jazz-lovers will be happy to hear that this "Memphis of the West," the location of the University of Idaho's Performance and Education Facility, scored $750,000 in federal notes for jazz preservation. The Grammy Foundation got $1.2 million grant for music education.

Cultural icons too insignificant for even guest spots on "Hollywood Squares" weren't overlooked by appropriators. A museum and cultural center featuring the works of George Ohr, 19th century potter, received $425,000. And who could possibly pass up the chance to see a monumental Roman tribute to Birmingham Alabama's steel industry? Sen. Richard Shelby hammered taxpayers for $2 million for the continued restoration of a statue of Vulcan. Sen. Robert Byrd (didn't think we'd forgotten him, did you?) drove through $20 million in funding for the King Coal Highway and another $16 million for the Coalfields Expressway.

The sheer shamelessness of it all is breathtaking. And, some of the worst abusers are supposed to be conservatives, or at least Republicans. It's unfortunate that there is such a time-lag between April 15 and Election Day, since in its 2002 Congressional Pig Book, CAGW presented enough evidence to fire everyone.

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